OCEAN CITY — While many of the town’s special events and promotions are naturally centered in the downtown area including the Inlet and the Boardwalk, a new private sector alliance is hoping to ensure the north end gets a fair shake in terms of marketing and promotion.
Ocean City Economic Development Committee (EDC) President Michael James, managing partner of the Carousel Resort, told EDC members this week progress is being made on a new North Ocean City Business Alliance, a private-public partnership to promote and market all the north end of the resort has to offer.
With a wealth of resources, including the centerpiece Northside Park, looser parking, accessible beaches and generally easier traffic access, the north end of Ocean City has much to offer in terms of special events and promotions, but the resources are often underutilized, according to James.
The north end is not without its trouble spots. For example, apart from a couple of anchor stores, the old 94th Street Mall is largely vacant and redevelopment plans proposed over the years have not come to fruition. Similarly, the Gold Coast Mall has seen several tenants bail in recent years..
“We’re in the midst of forming an association with the retail, food and beverage and lodging establishments in the north end of Ocean City to work better with the city as team members,” said James. “We clearly have some issues. The 94th Street mall and the Gold Coast Mall have become blights on the north end of town.”
Other areas of the resort have pooled their collective resources to ensure a clear and unified voice in the town’s marketing and promotion plans. For example, there has been a Downtown Association and a Boardwalk Development Association for years.
“It’s still in its infancy, but we’re starting a dialogue with the business folks on the north end of town and figuring out how we can promote and take advantage of everything we have to offer,” he said. “We want to be a bigger part of the town’s overall marketing strategy. I’m not sure why we didn’t do it 20 years ago, but it’s just starting to come into focus.”
James pointed out the north end’s considerable contributions to the town’s room tax revenue and a perceived disparity in how the funds are used to market the resort.
“The room tax proceeds provide much of the town’s marketing budget and we want to make sure the north end is getting all the consideration it deserves in terms of how that is spent,” he said. “There are an amazing number of hotel rooms and condominiums in the north end of town. We’re still all on the same team, we’re just urging the town give more consideration to the north end of town in terms of its marketing and promotion.”